The Wylde Interview: Amey Martin
LUXURY'S NEW PIONEERS
Jean-Baptiste Amey and Kitsey Martin are returning artisan craftsmanship to the ubiquitous it-bag.
INTERVIEW BY THEA LEWIS-YATES,
WORDS BY LAUREN RAE
Specialising in handcrafted leather accessories, the design duo AMEY MARTIN pride themselves on the individual artistry of their Parisian designs. With bold colours, boxy shapes, a stunning futuristic finish and the rarest, butter-soft skins, they channel a thoroughly modern aesthetic.
On the eve of the much-anticipated launch on their online store, Wylde sits down with the pair to talk handbags, inspiration and why two minds are better than one.
How did you meet?
After seven years working for several French luxury houses, we met two years ago when we were hired to revamp a luxury label. Working together on the collection and the artistic direction, we clicked immediately and decided to launch our own project. AMEY MARTIN comes from a simple idea: creating bags of beauty and quality, exclusively handmade in France by leather-goods masters. Our aim is to create innovative pieces using the finest artisans, and leathers and exotic skins from the most prestigious French tanneries.
Describe your design process and the dynamics of working as a duo.
Working as a creative duo is the essence of AMEY MARTIN. We both have different inspirations so we’re always stimulating each other. We start to think of a new style or a new creative direction around a year before launching a collection. It’s a long way from starting to draw a handbag collection, to creating prototypes with our leather craftsmen. Luckily, our leather supplier and the master atelier is based near Paris, which means we're completely involved in all creative stages, from design to completion.
Your bags have a very definite visual signature - where do you find inspiration?
Our signature is personal: we are totally free in our aesthetic. There is no masterplan. When we decide to explore a new universe, season after season, we try to connect to the AMEY MARTIN woman. We think about her, about what she needs, we try to become part of her world. We also think in terms of utility. AMEY MARTIN came about through our frustration with current handbag offerings: we could not find a strong visual product with high quality materials, ethical craftsmanship and artistic influences. Our brand is full of inspirations: for the first season, we were fascinated by scuba diving. We have also been inspired by futuristic universes, a world of robots and innovations. Our main goal is to channel these multiple references and create a handbag with aesthetic balance, that could be referenced within the traditional French leather houses.
How important is traditional craftsmanship to your brand?
When we started AMEY MARTIN, our first focus was to understand what defined a luxury brand in 2015, and we realised this definition was unclear. Many brands are referenced in the luxury market only because they use luxury marketing or luxury artistic codes. It was important for us to resolve this issue in a contemporary way. For us, the positioning of AMEY MARTIN is measured in terms of creativity, and our use of high quality materials worked by the the finest artisans. There is a real ethical process which we share with all the people we work with. From the tanneries where we select our leather, to the content of our messages via social networks, to the high profile women who support and inspire us, we want a cohesive, current and ethical message for the brand.
Your SS16 collection is inspired by deep sea diving - how did this idea come about?
We are both 32 year old Parisian designers. In the 90's, during our childhood, we watched a French movie called Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue). The story tells the true story of Jacques Mayol - a famous diver, who was an ocean 'superman' unable to have social relations with humans like him. He spent all his time in the ocean dancing with dolphins. The aesthetic of the movie is made with stunning natural landscapes and a dramatically beautiful strong light. These elements interested us and we decided to transcript this aesthetic into a collection of handbags, for the modern city woman. Hence our decision to mix traditional leather with neoprene.
What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury needs to be coherent, from the level of quality and techniques used, to the message and values the final product carries. It is always exceptional to work with these rare materials. We select our leathers and exotic skins one by one: it takes days to hand-make an AMEY MARTIN piece. There are so many different operations required to shape the K23 bag, it’s quite technical in terms of construction. For example, we hand paint the edges of the bag and the shoulder strap, and we need to repeat this for a total of four coats. Luxury is a mix of innovation, time, rarity, creativity and traditional craftsmanship. AMEY MARTIN is the link between past and future.
Your designs are beautifully crafted but have no recognisable logo. Is the aim to offer something more unique than the plethora of generic 'big brand' handbags?
Yes - precisely. It is important for us to offer women modern 'maroquinerie' using strong designs, without logos. So many brands use logos and pop-culture references, and we decided to go against that trend. Regarding big brands, they have such a strong influence on the consumer. We wanted to break away from their codes, in order to be seen individually. It seems somewhat contradictory for many luxury houses to define their bags as 'exclusive', given the quantities they produce. And this has been on ongoing issue, since luxury has become increasingly industrialised in the last 30 years - we define ourselves as a new alternative.
Who is your ideal 'Amey Martin' woman?
Modern, dynamic and active, with an innate style that transcends seasonal fads. Passionate and true to herself. Naturally elegant and exacting in her choices.
What's next for the brand?
We are promoting the next collection, currently shown at Paris Fashion Week. Every season we redefine the style of the K23, mixing new materials with our classical leathers. We love changing our universes season after season, exploring new aesthetics within the parameters of our brand.
AmeyMartin.com is now live.